Identification of paralogous HERV-K LTRs on human chromosomes 3, 4, 7 and 11 in regions containing clusters of olfactory receptor genes

Mol Genet Genomics. 2001 Jul;265(5):820-5. doi: 10.1007/s004380100476.


A locus harboring a human endogenous retroviral LTR (long terminal repeat) was mapped on the short arm of human chromosome 7 (7p22), and its evolutionary history was investigated. Sequences of two human genome fragments that were homologous to the LTR-flanking sequences were found in human genome databases: (1) an LTR-containing DNA fragment from region 3p13 of the human genome, which includes clusters of olfactory receptor genes and pseudogenes; and (2) a fragment of region 21q22.1 lacking LTR sequences. PCR analysis demonstrated that LTRs with highly homologous flanking sequences could be found in the genomes of human, chimp, gorilla, and orangutan, but were absent from the genomes of gibbon and New World monkeys. A PCR assay with a primer set corresponding to the sequence from human Chr 3 allowed us to detect LTR-containing paralogous sequences on human chromosomes 3, 4, 7, and 11. The divergence times for the LTR-flanking sequences on chromosomes 3 and 7, and the paralogous sequence on chromosome 21, were evaluated and used to reconstruct the order of duplication events and retroviral insertions. (1) An initial duplication event that occurred 14-17 Mya and before LTR insertion - produced two loci, one corresponding to that located on Chr 21, while the second was the ancestor of the loci on chromosomes 3 and 7. (2) Insertion of the LTR (most probably as a provirus) into this ancestral locus took place 13 Mya. (3) Duplication of the LTR-containing ancestral locus occurred 11 Mya, forming the paralogous modern loci on Chr 3 and 7.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 11 / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3 / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 4 / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7 / genetics*
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / genetics*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / genetics


  • Receptors, Odorant